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With all the threats facing our environment—from deadly pesticides and deforestation to attacks on endangered species —the time to act is now!

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Clean Air Ambassador: Odessa Darrough

My brother faced several challenges because he could not do some of the things that other kids enjoyed. It was painful to see him suffer.

My family and I have had the misfortune of being exposed to multiple air pollutants in Arkansas. My mother suffered from asthma and passed away at an early age, leaving behind a husband and two very young children. My brother also suffered from asthma. He faced several challenges because he could not do some of the things that other kids enjoyed. It was painful to see him suffer.

After my mother’s death, my family remained in Arkansas; however, we moved from Jefferson County to nearby Pulaski County. The pollution sources in both counties and throughout Arkansas that cause the greatest concern are the coal-fired power plants.

According to research, coal-fired power plants emit large quantities of greenhouse gases along with mercury and other air pollution. Arkansas is home to five coal-fired power plants in three locations. Two of the highest mercury emitting plants in the country are in Arkansas. The coal-fired power plant in Jefferson County emits the most mercury in the state. The other high mercury emitting coal fired power plant is in Independence County.

The emission of toxic air pollutants can increase asthma attacks and premature deaths. The air toxics also increase the number of people treated or hospitalized with lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

I would like for President Obama, members of Congress, Environmental Protection Agency officials and other decision makers to know that clean air is critical for healthy living. It is important that each of you support legislative issues that promote strong protective standards to reduce mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants. Equally important is your support of Sen. Sanders’ resolution S. Res.119, which recognizes the millions of lives saved and the billions of health care costs avoided due to the Clean Air Act. I believe immediate action on these two issues will help protect Arkansans’ right to breathe clean air.

Ambassador Audio: 
Ambassador Group Affiliation: 
National Council of Churches
Ambassador Profession: 
Community Advocate for Health and Wellness